by Michelle Porter, MPH, RD
Remember Katie’s list of foods that are galactagogues (foods that help support milk production)? Well, they are almost all whole-plant foods. This type of fare can also offer you powerful protection against cancer, diabetes, heart disease, Parkinson’s disease, and stroke, to name a few common maladies, as well as boost your mood and energy levels. They are also very weight-friendly. I’m not saying anyone needs to go vegan, but whole-plant foods deserve a place in everyone’s diet, even—or, especially—fourth trimester mamas.
What are whole-plant foods? First, consider nutritionally dense vegetables: leafy greens, sprouted grains, roots, tubers, flowers, buds, night shades—the more, the better. Next, beans and legumes: chickpeas, black beans, kidney beans, lentils, etc. Of course, there are many fruits to incorporate into your diet: berries, citrus, melons, and mango are particularly well studied for their health benefits, but any fruit you like is good to include. Finally, nuts, seeds, and intact whole grains have great nutritional value. The problem with these foods is they can be time consuming to prepare or too easily forgotten as a side dish for a tired fourth trimester mama, but I am going to share many great ways to boost your whole-plant food intake that are simple; in fact, you may already be doing many of these!
- Keep already-cut produce available and ready to eat. Baby carrots, grape tomatoes, and party platters of cut veggies are great to keep in the fridge for the busy post partum weeks and they are easy to munch for snacks. Pair with your favorite hummus, guacamole, or veggie dip.
- Make a vegetable soup or large stir-fry one time per week. Purchase the ready-to-cook, already-trimmed vegetables for easy prep.
- Keep bagged salads on hand for quick lunches or to supplement dinners. Pre-washed and bagged greens plus ready-to-eat produce trays combine for a salad that couldn’t be easier to prep.
- Check your grocery store for pre-cleaned and ready-to-use bags of kale, collard greens, or Swiss chard. Many of these greens come in both conventional and organic options. Add to soups, stews, pasta dishes, and smoothies.
- Frozen stream-able bags of broccoli, peas, carrots, edamame, cauliflower rice, broccoli, or cauliflower bites are great, quick-cook options if there are other little mouths you’re feeding.
- Zucchini or other “spiralized” vegetables are available at all super markets. You can sauté them straight or introduce them to the family mixed with actual linguini or spaghetti for a fun twirl-to-eat mix of veggie and grains.
- Kale salads can be made up in bulk and last all week. Even traditional salads, if you make them “upside down” and make sure greens and lettuce have been spun and well-dried, can last undressed for several days.
- Make or buy trail mixes with nuts, seeds, and dried fruits.
- Make or buy three bean salads or southern caviar-type bean dishes that can be great snacks with veggies or tortilla chips. They also work as a yummy salad topping or just eat it straight with a spoon.
- Cut open an avocado and just dig it with a spoon! For an even yummier twist, squeeze some lime on it and salt/pepper before devouring. Get used to keeping avocadoes in stock; once baby is starting solids, they are super convenient on-the-go meals and snacks that mash up so easily—no special gadgets required.
- Keep fresh cut melon, berries, apples, or oranges available or stock up on frozen fruits. Try an afternoon fruit smoothie made with Greek yogurt or silken tofu for a refreshing treat that will keep you satisfied ‘til dinner.
- Check out the grain and beans salads in the prepared salad section at your local grocery store. Your nearest Whole Foods has many different ones to offer. Fill a container and use it throughout the week. Yummy nutrition, no effort.
- Keep canned beans and corn on hand for quick additions to boost the nutrition and texture of salads, soups, pasta dishes, and stir-fries.
There are countless more ways to add in whole-plant foods. The main theme of this blog is to use the help the grocery store and food manufacturers are giving you. Because so many of these foods are in such user-friendly forms, they lower the barrier to consuming whole-plant foods. Using these “shortcuts” also lessens the likelihood that your produce drawer becomes filled with freaky looking rotting vegetables that would turn anyone off a veggie-packed meal. Another tip to further reduce that likelihood of your veggies starting to grow unintended colonies of their own is to not put them in the produce drawer at all, but rather leave them on the main selves of the refrigerator. We eat what we see! Give these foods the prime real estate in your fridge that they—and you—deserve!
Below are some Whole-Plant Foods recipes that Michelle recently shared as part of Katie’s “What’s Next” live workshop. Make these at home and enjoy!
Farro Salad, adapted from Mark Bittman’s Easy Grain Salads on the Planet
Avocado Salsa–combine all ingredients and enjoy!
2 cans of black beans, drained
1 mango diced
½ red pepper diced
juice of 1 lime
1 tbsp olive oil
½ cup frozen white or yellow corn, thawed
¼ cup minced cilantro
¼ cup diced pineapple
Michelle Porter, MPH, RD is a Registered Dietitian, board-certified specialist in obesity and weight management, and a Balanced Breastfeeding Mentor.
For the past 10 years, Michelle has worked as an outpatient dietitian. Her areas of experience include bariatric surgery, nonsurgical weight management, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, dyslipidemia, hypertension and PCOS. She also has personal and professional experience in plant-based nutrition and completed eCornell’s Plant Based Nutrition certification (2017). Although Michelle has a great deal of expertise in these areas, she is also willing and very interested in working with anyone who needs the assistance of an RD.
Michelle has a passion for nutrition and helping others. Being a nutritionist is truly a vocation for Michelle, a rewarding career that also remains a hobby in her personal life and, she feels, one of her greatest gifts to her family on a daily basis.
If you are interested in a free nutrition consultation with Michelle, sign up by clicking on the green button here.